Today is the shortest day of the year, but did you know that the 21st of December was when Christmas was originally celebrated? The 21st of December is actually the Winter Solstice or Mid-Winter, the time when the sun is at its lowest point. Pre-Christians celebrated on this date because it meant that from then on the days would be getting brighter again. When Christianity arrived, the Winter Solstice celebrations were used as the basis of Christmas but the Christians moved the date slightly to make it their own.
The common symbols of Christmas date back to before Christianity too. Evergreens were brought indoors, just as Christmas trees are now, to symbolise the continuance of life. Fires or candles were lit just before sunset to welcome the rebirth of the sun, just as candles are often lit in windows now as a sign of welcoming the birth of Christ.
Christmas comes in the middle of the dark, cold Winter. We, in the Northern Hemisphere, need this festival of light and cheer to warm us up and to remind us that the brighter days are coming again. The preparations for the festivities distract us from the miserable weather and build anticipation of the special day to come.
With all the hustle and bustle reaching a crescendo, why not take a moment to pause for reflection today. To look out the window and see how bare the branches of the trees are. To see how still and quiet the earth is. To light a candle to welcome back the sun.
You might take the opportunity to share this quiet time with your children. Young children are mesmerised by flickering candlelight and some down-time could be good for them in the midst of the chaos that Christmas brings. You might help them observe the mark winter has made outside and discuss being thankful with them, not only for what gifts they might receive over the coming days, but for their warm house and the plentiful food they have too.
The shortest day of the year gives us a perfect excuse to snuggle down together and stay cosy indoors. Relish a final moment of peace and tranquility today before tackling the last of the preparations. Relax and recharge your batteries to avoid overwhelm and get the most out of this very special time of year.
Today, we are keeping cosy indoors. Though the earth is asleep and our flower beds bare, the weather is not so still and quiet. There are high winds and driving rain outside and there is not much evidence of the returning sun. My final day of work is tomorrow, so today I am relishing a chance to sit still for a while and snuggle with my girlies.
Happy Winter Solstice! Welcome back sunshine, I look forward to seeing more and more of you!